Trigger Pull Weight Of An AR15 Or AR10/308 Is One Of The Most Discussed Topics In The Firearms World Since The Pull Weight Is Usually One Of The First Upgrades People Gravitate Towards After Building Their 80 Percent Lower Receiver.
But what is the best trigger pull weight for an AR-15? Does it even matter? And what weights are better for which jobs? We’re going to explore these questions to give you a better understanding of how your trigger will impact your shooting.
Does Trigger Weight Matter?
Starting off with the most relevant question, does the trigger weight on your AR-15 actually matter? This is a very nuanced question that can only be answered “It depends on your skill level and what you are doing.”
When it comes to AR-15 triggers you have a relatively wide spectrum of weights ranging from 3.5 pounds to almost 10 pound trigger pulls. Some of these heavier triggers are not as bad as they sound because of the AR-15’s trigger design, but too heavy or too light can cause issues.
If you’re using poor technique or are shooting from an awkward position, a heavier trigger pull can lead to you pulling the shot off target.
If you are using a very light trigger this can cause light primer strikes and cause the gun to not fire reliably.
Let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks of heavy and light triggers.
Heavy Trigger Benefits
Heavy triggers, also called “Thinking Triggers”, allow you to process a shot more easily. If you start the trigger press but decide the shot shouldn’t be made, those extra pounds will buy you enough time to stop the shooting process.
When using a heavy trigger, each shot is deliberate and requires conscious effort in order to fire the gun. This helps ensure each shot fired needs to be taken while adding a certain level of safety.
These “Thinking Triggers” are usually at or above 5 pounds in weight. Mil-Spec or Military-Specification triggers tend to fit this category
Heavy Trigger Drawbacks
While a heavy trigger can add an additional level of safety to the gun, there are some drawbacks.
Heavy triggers are harder to fire fast if you don’t put in the time to learn how to fire them fast. They also make it harder to shoot at longer distances.
AR-15s can easily reach out to 500-600 yards with the right optics and skill. But shooting at those distances can be heavily impacted by trigger pull. Too heavy of a trigger can cause the gun to pull off the target with a poor trigger squeeze.
Shooting at longer distances brings out the deficits in our shooting skills and a heavier trigger is much less forgiving in these circumstances.
Light Trigger Benefits
Lighter triggers are great for speed and accuracy. Since they take less effort to cause the gun to fire, many people gravitate towards them because they are easier to use, especially on AR-15s.
If you want to be able to fire faster, a light trigger with a short reset will allow you to fire much faster than a Mil-Spec trigger with less practice and finger fatigue.
A lighter trigger can also help in long distance shots. With less effort required to fire the gun, a light trigger makes it easier to hit far targets because there is less force being directed into the trigger. This reduces the chances of pulling the shot by the shot “breaking” faster on the target.
Light triggers usually are 4 pounds or less in pull weight.
Light Trigger Drawbacks
While the light triggers can help you go faster, they do bring some drawbacks. A light trigger will go off easier than a heavy trigger, which means you have to be more aware of your safety protocols to prevent an accidental discharge.
Light triggers can also be affected by recoil more than heavy triggers. If too much recoil is put back into the AR-15, the trigger can fire again, causing an accidental double fire usually referred to as “doubles.” This is a problem especially if you only intended to fire once.
Another issue with a lighter trigger is the previously mentioned light primer strikes. This comes from the smaller springs used in some light triggers. These springs do not let the hammer fall with as much force as a heavier trigger which may not be enough to detonate a primer. This is especially true when dealing with hard or military-style primers.
Trigger Weight Considerations By Role
The largest determining factor for your trigger pull weight is what you are using your AR-15 for. Heavy triggers and light triggers both have niches they excel in that can be mitigated by skill and practice. Here are some common niches to help you determine which trigger weight is good for your situation.
If your AR-15 is going to be used on the job or to defend your home, a Mil-Spec or a similarly weighted trigger will be beneficial. In high stress situations, the trigger weight can mitigate accidental firing of the gun.
In life and death scenarios each shot needs to be considered and justified. This is easier to do with a heavy trigger.
A heavy trigger will also help with the general reliability of the rifle. You will be less likely to encounter a light primer strike, but may have to deal with a ruptured primer if the hammer strike is too strong.
Shooting small groups, especially at distance, is going to benefit from the lighter triggers. Usually, precision guns are optimized for precision and won’t be doing anything else. This means a light trigger is worked into that system to refine your trigger pull, making shots easier with less effort.
A standard Mil-Spec trigger can be used, it just isn’t as easy. Using a heavier trigger is a great way to train and refine your shooting skills. But if you are trying to get the most out of your precision build, a heavier trigger can make it unnecessarily hard.
While skill will allow you to push heavy triggers during competition, most competitors start to try and save as much time as possible. This means trying to shave seconds off of their time wherever they can with a lighter trigger for faster splits.
However, this has to be carefully balanced with reliability. Light primer strikes and other malfunctions will waste more time damaging your overall score. This is especially true if you tune your rifle to particular ammunition types and brands.
But what if you don’t have multiple rifles for different tasks? If you can’t have multiple rifles a middle-weight trigger will handle most of your needs. These types of triggers fall either on the high end of light or the low of heavy depending on how you look at it.
A 4 to 5 pound trigger is going to handle most of what you’re doing. All of the other considerations are really focused on your preferences and the task at hand. This weight range combined with good form is flexible enough to fit into most categories.
But keep in mind this weight is not optimized for anything. So if you’re looking to get the most out of your rifle using these trigger weights, you’ll probably be disappointed.
Almost everything comes down to preference when we deal with firearms. The right trigger pull weight for you might not be the trigger pull weight someone else needs or wants for their rifle. The major problems come from the extremes that the pull weights tend to be.
Hair triggers and triggers that feel like they weigh a ton are both terrible options when it comes to good rifle usage. Lighter triggers are for those who want speed and a better chance at precision. Heavier triggers are for those who want reliability and consideration with each shot.
Test out a few weights at your local ranges or gun store if you can to see what is better for you.